ANother fine meal at Giang-nan
So, i went with a group of nine neophytes (well eight, not including myself - seven really because one wasn't eating and just came along) to Giang-nan for some highly decent huaiyang dishes.
Wish such a large group, the variety was great.
Three cold appetizers - the jade celery (slightly braised, still crunchy with a sesame flavored dressing), the "fried tofu" - actually kaofu, gluten puffs with woodears and boiled peanuts, and the cold roast duck in "supreme sauce" (a vegetarian broth as a dressing).
They were gone pretty fast.
Two orders fo the crab and pork xiaolongbao. As well (just to be safe) two orders of the yin-si juan/ silver thread rolls/shanghai steamed bread, and same shanghai style spring rolls (two orders- four per order). The springrolls came out pipng, blisteringly hot straight from the oil, so we had to wait a bit on these.
pork - the braised pork knuckle (bing tang ti - rock sugar "hoof") which is part of the leg, very light and wonderfully seasoned. the layer of skin and fat was delicious but a little unfamiliar so most tried a bit of it. the meat went fast.
chicken - clay pot chicken with chestnuts - real chestnuts, tianjin chestnuts, not water chestnuts. probably second biggest hit of the evening. dark sauce, rich, and chestnuts infused the meat with gobs of flavor.
eel - leek with eel paste (on menu) - wonderful dish. they made all gone, and these aren't chinese food aficionados for the most part, and def. not huaiyang cuisine. the ginger and leeks gave ita nice bite, acdg to the crowd. i'm pretty sure the dish is slivered eels with shredded jiu-huang, chinese yelow leeks. hongshao red coked style soy based sauce with spices incl sugar.
shrimp - shrimp LIGHTLY stirfried with longjing tea leaves. delicate as you could want. fresh tasting. clear sauce. another success, but everything was successful.
fish - minced fish with pine nuts (yumi, fish-rice with pine nuts) - the fish was sole. ti's pulled into rice shaped granules which are then stir-fried with pinenuts, carrots, peas, again delicious and light. very different from fish in other regions.
'new years cakes' - niangao, gloutinous rice cake cut into ovals and stir-fried with a bit of ji-cai, shepherd's purse - an herb. a nice break with a differnt texture.
two orders of real yangzhou style fried rice - not like the cantonese or american cantonese version. no soy, no dark sauce, the rie is barely perfumed by the shrimp, chicken, eggs and meat. we ordred one - i thought we'd go to teamed but it was o popular (esp withthe eel) that we had to order another plate.
too full for the tangyuan dessert so we skipped it. Eight people ate and paid (the ninth had one xlb and a bit of hte eel and rice) total with a nice tip was $17 a head.
GIANG NAN RESTAURANT
306 N GARFIELD AVE A12
306 N Garfield Ave, Monterey Park, CA
Jerome, sounds great. I finally made it to Giang Nan. Since I had little time, I just ordered the Jade Celery. Outstanding. Such a simple dish done so perfectly (I've since had similar elsewhere and it did not compare). I looked on the menu for the Red Cooked Tofu, but couldn't find it. Is it still available there?
Chicken with real Tianjin-style chestnuts, as Jerome recommended above. I honestly think it might be the best thing on the menu.
I'd say get the pork knuckle (which is called something wonderfully appetising like "pork lump" or "pork pump", but if you do, skip the red-cooked tofu as the sauce on the pork is like a darker red-cook sauce.
Get the winter melon if they have it, and get jade celery, and ask what kind of leafy greens they have, such as taro vines or celery leaves or pea shoots.
I actually like the lion's head meatballs (a Shanghainese thing, but still) if they have them, and you can get pork xiaolongbao without the crab.
re: Das Ubergeek
I'll second (or third) the chicken with clay pot chestnuts. Especially on cold winter days, it's an intensely soothing, warming dish.
The last time we ate at Giang Nan was on election day. When we entered, the presidency was still up in the air. We then ate the clay pot chestnut chicken. We returned to the car and turned on the radio. Obama had won.
It's a truly magical dish.